Do Women Writers Face an Uphill Battle? How Women’s Writing Communities Can Help

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

You’d think that in this day and age, women writers would have it made. After all, women buy more books than men. At writing conferences I’ve attended, women far outnumber men. Whether we’ve devoted our lives to our careers or families, I sense in women writers a pent up desire to explore their creativity.

But, is it necessary to have groups dedicated to fostering writing by women? I think it is. Or, at least it can’t hurt. Why is that? Well, for one thing, if you’re a woman you’re still called upon to juggle your family responsibilities and your writing ambition. You’re caught in a tug-of-war: a live person (whom you love) vs. a burning, but secret, desire for “something more.”

Groups set up to validate women writers’ aspirations understand that women can never really just do one thing. Once a mother, always a mother. And despite changes in society that sent women back into the workforce, I don’t know a single woman who delegated their jobs as cooks, bottlewashers, laundry managers, homework helpers, and caregivers for aging parents. No.

Women typically don’t give up responsibilities. We take more on. Women writers can’t stop grocery shopping, resign from being “soccer mom,” or bow out on babysitting for grandchildren.

We can’t “disengage,” and in fact, many in our families might see what we do as competing with what they’d like us to be doing.

One of women writers’ main challenges is to convince ourselves that writing is legitimate. I recognize that this isn’t just a problem for women. It’s a problem for anyone wanting to make a life in the arts. However, the sense of fragmentation can lead women to abandon their writing projects too early.

women writers on SCN

The Story Circle Network provides a forum for women writers whose focus is on telling